Sleep is a topic that is frequently raised during conversations with our Chiropractors and patients. With our lives getting busier and more stressful on the whole, the phrases “I don’t feel great, but it’s just because I haven’t had enough sleep” or “I must have slept wrong” are common. We are all aware that the quality and quantity of our sleep has a direct link to our health, but have you ever stopped to think about what signs or symptoms you may be experiencing that could be resolved by simply making sleep a priority?
Getting adequate quality and quantity of sleep is extremely important as a ‘good night’ of sleep accentuates the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems and improves cognitive function and memory processing.
What are the consequences if you don’t have a ‘good night’s sleep’? Sleep deprivation can negatively impact on the function of the body in numerous ways, many of which most people don’t attribute to poor sleep.
Some of the effects of lack of good sleep are:
- Feelings of fatigue, lethargy and lack of motivation
- Moodiness and irritability
- Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
- Decreased ability to cope with stress
- Reduced immune function; frequent colds and infections
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Susceptibility to weight gain
- Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents
- Difficulty making decisions
- Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems
To help set yourself up for good night’s sleep, not only is your Chiropractic care helpful, it is also important to make sure you have the right equipment. If you have ever been unlucky enough to sleep in a really uncomfortable bed, you would understand that it is just about impossible to sleep well. In fact, having a good quality mattress and pillow is one of the most important aspects of preparing yourself for good quality and quantity of sleep.
Tips for choosing the correct mattress:
- You need to find a mattress that is both supportive and comfortable at the same time
- A good quality mattress will accommodate for the variances in weight distribution throughout your body. This way your spine will remain straight throughout your sleep, preventing discomfort and disturbed sleep
Our Chiropractors can refer you to a mattress fitting professional in your local area – ask our team at your next visit!
Tips for choosing the correct pillow:
- The most important aspect of this decision is determining which position you spend most of your time in whilst sleeping
- Depending on shoulder width, side sleepers will generally need a slightly higher pillow with a concavity at the top that will support both the neck and head in a position that keeps the spine neutral
- Back sleepers should be using a pillow that supports the neck without lifting the head too far off the mattress. High pillows that push their head forward relative to the shoulders can result in a forward head carriage when standing, which is a major postural stress and can lead to increased spinal degeneration
The next important factor that has been shown to improve sleep quality over time is to keep a regular sleep schedule.
Staying in sync with your body’s natural sleep–wake cycle (your circadian rhythm) is one of the most important strategies for achieving good sleep. You will feel far more refreshed and energised going to bed and getting up at the same time every day than sleeping the same number of hours at different times each day. To achieve this, follow these tips:
- Go to bed at the same time every night. Choose a time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. If you want to change your bedtime, do it in small daily increments of 15 minutes.
- Wake up at the same time every day. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time then you are sleep deprived and should adjust your bed time to earlier. To maintain a healthy and regular sleep-wake cycle it is important to wake at the same time on weekends too
- Make up for lost sleep. If you need to make up for some lost sleep hours it is better to take a daytime nap, rather than sleeping late, which will upset your sleep-wake cycle. The best way to nap is an afternoon sleep for approximately 30 minutes
- Fight after–dinner drowsiness. Sleeping at night before your normal sleep-wake cycle time may lead to a person waking up later in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. If you find yourself getting sleepy way before your bedtime engage in something mildly stimulating to avoid falling asleep
If this newsletter has got you thinking about the last time you replaced your pillow or mattress, or simply your quality of sleep, have a chat with your Chiropractor at your next visit. They may be able to help!
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